‘Rumor mill’ goes into overdrive for a spot Bitcoin ETF approval on Friday

‘Rumor mill’ goes into overdrive for a spot Bitcoin ETF approval on Friday

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Speculation that the SEC is set to approve a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) on Friday has reached a fever pitch on social media. 

A tweet from Grayscale’s legal chief that he was “just filling out some forms,” in addition to a widely shared tweet from a reporter, has fueled speculation that approval could come through within the next day.

Several analysts still expect potential approvals to come next week, however.

In a Jan. 4 post on X (formerly Twitter), TechCrunch reporter Jacquelyn Melinek cited sources “extremely close to the matter” to suggest multiple ETFs would be approved and is “expecting something tomorrow.”

heard from sources extremely close to the matter that the bitcoin spot ETF is going to be approved by the SEC for *multiple* firms’ applications

— Jacquelyn Melinek (@jacqmelinek) January 4, 2024

Others have taken particular interest in a cryptic tweet from Grayscale’s chief legal officer stating he was “Just filling out some forms,” — which has garnered 1.9 million views and 6,700 likes since it was posted.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #BTCETF and the term “Bitcoin ETFs” is currently trending on Twitter, and the price of Bitcoin has also been climbing since its sharp Jan. 3 drawdown, up 3.4% in the last 24 hours, per TradingView data.

BITCOIN ETF TOMORROW??

— DustyBC Crypto (@TheDustyBC) January 5, 2024

“The rumor mill is going full steam,” trader Scott Melkor said in response to the back-and-forth speculation across social media.

Analysts splash cold water on rumors

However, Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart described much of the speculation around a Jan. 5 approval as noise, saying he still expects approval to arrive between Jan. 8 and 10.

Similarly, attorney and commercial litigator Joe Carlasare pointed out that the public comment period for several ETF applications doesn’t close until midnight on Jan. 5. In his view, this makes it “very unlikely” that approval would arrive any time before the start of next week. 

Senior Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas explained the SEC is currently providing final comments and that issuers will soon file their final 19b-4 and S-1 forms soon afterward.

SEC is giving final comments as we speak, then issuers will submit final 19b-4s and S-1s soon after. So I mean this is def as close to “done” as we’ve been but no official approval as far as I know.

— Eric Balchunas (@EricBalchunas) January 4, 2024

Both forms need to be approved by the SEC before an ETF can start trading, though an approved 19b-4 form is required for the spot Bitcoin ETF to be effectively approved. 

Related: Spot Bitcoin ETFs could be rejected if the SEC wants ‘more time’ — Analyst

Scott Johnsson, the general partner at VB Capital, said he was “still skeptical” that an ETF approval would be issued before next week.

“Unless there are 19b-4 [applications] that are already all clear and the SEC doesn’t care about simultaneous approval (seems a stretch?)” wrote Johnsson.

There are 14 issuers vying for a spot Bitcoin ETF, including BlackRock, Valkyrie, ARK Invest/21 Shares, Bitwise and Fidelity.

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